“(2) Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. (3) For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing he deceives himself. (4) But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. (5) For each will have to bear his own load.” -Galatians 6:2-5
The first and last sentences of this passage seem contradictory; one says “bear each others burdens” and the other says “each will have to bear his own load”. So that might leave us asking: “Who’s Responsible for Me?” The truth is many people don’t know the answer to this question. And this is another area of life that needs balanced in our day.
There are two facts about our own responsibility that need to be reconciled: 1. We are responsible for ourselves, and 2. We will, at some time, need help with our responsibilities. Verse 3 tells us why this gets out of balance. According to verse 3 we get out of balance when we begin to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. In one case, the person who thinks highly of himself refuses to help someone else because he believes that he achieved his position in life without the help of others and therefore everyone else should do the same. On the other hand, someone might think so highly of themselves that they believe that they are entitled to have others take care of them, or “bear their burdens”. Neither of these attitudes are correct.
So how then do we reconcile these two facts and therefore correct the two incorrect attitudes that result from them. The key is in one phrase: “the law of Christ”. What is the law of Christ? We find the answer in John 13:34. After Jesus had the last supper with the disciples and then washed their feet He told them: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” The law of Christ then is love! If we act with love toward one another then the two issues are reconciled. For on the one hand, love would teach the first person that he did not get to his place in life on his own and that he could be a means of helping someone else get on their feet. For the second person, love would compel them to not become a burden unnecessarily to those around him and would urge him to find ways to be a benefit to others. Love causes us to take responsibility for ourselves and for those around us. Love teaches us that if someone we know is suffering that is not only a reflection on them, but on us as well. For it is true that everyone is ultimately responsible for themselves, but the love of Christ would have us feel responsible for all.
Jesus isn’t unfamiliar with either of these struggles. He is the Only Begotten Son of God, through whom all things are made and for whom all things are made. If anyone had the right to brag of their position and tell others to measure up it would be Him. But He didn’t do that. Instead, He took on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7) and gave His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). As a human, Jesus grew up poor and in lived in a city that didn’t grant much opportunity to break out of the cycle of poverty. Yet, in spite of the set-backs of His circumstances and background He still became the savior of the world. He was faced with both sides of the issue and He modeled love on either side. He was not arrogant and stingy nor did He believe Himself to be entitled to anyone’s to anyone’s help, even though He was often in need.
Therefore, let us take responsibility for ourselves – only you are responsible for you. Yet, all the while let us continue to care for every person as if they were are own responsibility, for such is the example of Christ and the law of love.